Not many basketball fans put much stock, if any, into preseason games. Teams seem to use them to help younger players get acclimated to the speed of the NBA, but the league’s superstars play sparingly, mostly using the contests to get a feel for their new teammates while also just trying to stay in rhythm. When it comes to Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, it seems that he too puts little stock into preseason action.
LeBron James appeared in his first 2021-22 preseason game with the Lakers
Fans and experts expect the Lakers to contend for a championship this season, but you wouldn’t know it by their preseason record, as they are 0-4 through their first four games.
James didn’t play in either of their first two contests, but he appeared in the third game against the Golden State Warriors, although he didn’t play his best basketball. The King scored nine points in 18 minutes and shot 4-of-12 from the field while also shooting 0-of-3 from 3-point range. The Warriors won 121-114.
LA didn’t play the game anywhere close to how it will likely play a regular-season game, as Dwight Howard led the team in scoring with 23 points to go with 12 rebounds. But it was good for younger players like Talen Horton-Tucker, who had 17.
After the contest, James shared his thoughts on the preseason.
LeBron shared his honest thoughts on the preseason
After the game, James discussed how he feels about preseason action, and while he sees its importance, the games don’t appear to have much benefit for him.
“Preseason is…I care more about the practice court than I care about the preseason games,” he said, according to USA Today’s LeBron Wire. “You get out there, you play rotations, they’re trying to figure it out and things of that nature, so there’s so much that you can get out of a preseason game, for me, individually. But, I love our practices, I love to see what are we doing and continue to work behind closed doors. So I don’t know, I don’t really put too much in the preseason, to be honest.”
James then reiterated the fact that the preseason can be important for some players, just not him.
“It means something as far as like individuals getting their rhythm, getting in game shape. We have our practices, but being out on the floor, bumping against another team and things of that nature, that helps,” James said, per LeBron Wire. “All I’m saying, for me, it’s nothing I’m gonna learn in preseason at this point in my career, nothing at all. I’m not gonna learn anything, nothing. We’re working our habits and building camaraderie and chemistry on the floor, and that’s always good.”
LeBron James and the Lakers will use the practice court to potentially build a contender
Given the number of minutes James and his fellow Big Three members, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, play in the preseason, those games will only do so much in terms of helping LA win a championship.
Practice, though, is where they will have the chance to build a title contender.
“I love the practices more than the preseason games because you could be making mistakes and you figure it out right there. You’re able to stop it and talk about it and things of that nature and go back and rewatch,” James said, per LeBron Wire. “You can do that obviously the next day after the preseason game, but you could do it right on the fly in practices. So I’m more inclined to love those more at this point because there’s nothing on the floor that I’m gonna learn for me individually.”
With the number of different players on their roster this year, practice will be crucial for the Lakers throughout the season. The preseason won’t matter a ton once they get 60 games into the year.
All in all, though, LA has one of the most talented rosters of all time with their Big Three and the players surrounding them in Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, and others. And head coach Frank Vogel will mostly have to use practice time to put it all together.
LeBron James and the Lakers have a chance to make history this season. But due to the lack of importance of preseason game and his limited playing time in the contests, you can’t blame him for not putting too much stock in them.
Stats courtesy of ESPN